Hearts striker insists team in a much better position to deal with any set-backs

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Hearts forward Steven Naismith insists the team is better placed to deal with set-backs this season following last term’s relegation nightmare.

The Gorgie side’s eight-game winning run came to an abrupt halt last Friday night in a 2-1 defeat at title rivals Dunfermline.

Robbie Neilson’s side, who are four points adrift of the Pars at the Championship summit, will now attempt to prove that it was just a minor bump on the road when they host Alloa this evening.

Hearts striker Steven Naismith is approaching full fitness | Hearts news
Naismith and his Hearts team-mate host Alloa this evening

Naismith was part of a squad last season that did not react well to adversity, the Tynecastle side losing some 17 games in all competition on their way to a controversial demotion from the curtailed second tier.

However, Naismith insists the mindset within the changing room has vastly improved.

He said: “There is definitely a different mentality, the squad is different.

“There are a lot more bigger characters in the building now, not just players but staff, the way the manager leads it and what he expects. 

“I don’t think anybody is going to be able to take the foot off the gas or even kind of shy away from anything. 

“We have worked on stuff throughout pre-season so much that that’s the levels we’ve set and what the manager demands. 

“As a player on the pitch you’ve got to want the ball, you’ve got to want to take it and you need to do what he is demanding from you.

“As a group there are more coming in disappointed and not accepting of things that have happened and that makes it slightly easier.

“It’s more of a common ground that everyone understands and knows that we have to go and get a good result on Tuesday.”

Tonight’s clash with the Wasps is the start of a double header against Peter Grant’s side, with Hearts the visitors to the Indodrill stadium in Betfred Cup duty on Saturday.

Former Rangers and Everton playmaker Naismith admits the players are relieved they do not have to wait long to right the wrongs of the performance against the Pars.

He added: “The one positive of having this game is that you’re not leaving it two weeks that you can’t go and get a result and get the positive feeling back. 

“Since the manager came in it has all been positive.

“It’s good we’ve got the game to rectify it hopefully and push it back on.”

Manager Robbie Neilson, meanwhile, insists it is important the players maintain perspective following the set-back in Fife.

He added: “You are always going to lose football matches. 

We have had a brilliant start to the season, we have got to the Scottish Cup final, topped the group in the Betfred and won seventy five percent of our games. 

If we can keep that going to the end of the season we’ll all be delighted. 

“When you are at a big club like Hearts you have to make sure you keep things calm.”